Refrigerator Organization. It’s hard to believe that we’re more than halfway through November! Now Thanksgiving is only a few days away! There will be a lot of activity going on in the kitchen this month and in December. In preparation, I’ve been focusing on ideas to help you get organized. Last Monday and Wednesday I shared ideas on how to get your pantry organized. Today, I’m bringing you some tips on refrigerator organization. This time of year, we have to make as much room as possible to accommodate all the food we’ll be enjoying. There has to be space to store the food the days before the meal and all the leftovers afterward. Now is the time to get ready for it!
1. Remove and Purge
- The first step to refrigerator organization is to take everything out of the refrigerator. Toss out anything that is past its expiration date, moldy, unidentifiable, looks like a science experiment or smells bad.
- Toss out any leftovers that are more than 4 days old. The Mayo Clinic advises that leftovers shouldn’t be kept longer than 3-4 days. After that, the risk of food poisoning increases.
- To avoid spoilage, store perishable items in a cooler or secondary refrigerator until you can put them back into the clean refrigerator.
2. Deep Clean
- Remove all the drawers and shelves. To help remember where the shelve go, mark the spots with a Post-It Flag or painter’s tape.
- Vacuum out any crumbs.
- Wipe down the inside of the fridge using a clean sponge dipped in warm water and dish soap. Rinse with clean water and wipe dry with a cloth.
- Wash the drawers, doors, racks and shelves in the sink with warm water and dish soap. Rinse clean and wipe dry with a cloth.
- Wipe down all gaskets and door seals, making sure to remove any crumbs that may have been caught there.
- Don’t forget to clean the outside of the refrigerator, too.
- Put all the drawers, shelves and racks back into the fridge.
- Make sure the temperature setting is correct. The preferred temp for the refrigerator is between 35 and 40 degrees F (1.7 to 5 degrees C). The best temperature for the freezer is 0 Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius).
- Wipe off everything before you put it back in the clean refrigerator.
- Group items by category such as dairy, condiments, drinks, leftovers etc. Grouping like things together will make it easier to locate what you’re looking for.
- Organize foods by how frequently you use them. Place the things you use most often in the easiest-to-reach places. Less-perishable and infrequently used items can go in the harder-to-reach spots.
- Taller items should go in the back with shorter items in the front, so that you can see what you have.
- Store leftovers in clear containers with dated labels and keep them in the front where you can easily see them. Use the same style container in different sizes to make it easier to stack and store.
- Use plastic baskets and bins, coated wire racks, and turntables to increase storage space.
- Utilize the crisper and storage drawers for vegetables, fruits, cheeses, etc. Make sure the setting are correct.
- The warmer areas on the door are better for items in jars or bottles that don’t spoil that quickly like condiments, salad dressing, and canned drinks. Don’t keep perishable items like milk on the door.
Here is a great graphic from Squakfox.com that shows you where to store different items in the refrigerator.
- Once a week, grab your garbage can and go through the fridge to throw out any expired items. A good time to do this is the day before trash day.
- Once a month, give the refrigerator and freezer a deep cleaning.
- Wipe up spills and messes as they happen.
- Periodically, check the temperature to make sure it is set properly.
- Keep an open box of baking soda in the back of the refrigerator to absorb smells.
5. Freezer Tips
- Clean, organize and maintain the freezer the same as you do the refrigerator.
- When purging, throw out any food that has a thick layer of frost, is freezer-burnt or is more than a year old.
- Rotate food in the freezer by moving the older items to the front and placing the newer ones in the back.
These simple refrigerator organization tips will help you to organize your fridge for the holidays and maintain it throughout the year. Having an organized refrigerator helps save you money on your grocery budget, too. Storing food properly prevents it from spoiling and knowing what you have on hand can prevent over-buying. An organized fridge also helps save you time, because you don’t waste it scrambling around looking for what you need.
Here are some other posts that will help you to get your kitchen organized:
- Pantry Organization Ideas Part 1
- Pantry Organization Ideas Part 2
- 5 Stylish Kitchen Storage Ideas
- 10 Kitchen Storage Ideas
For more tips on refrigerator organization, check out the November 2012 Professional Organizers Blog Carnival “Organizing the Refrigerator” at Organized Assistant. Do you have any refrigerator organization tips or ideas that you’d like share?